Iconic Southampton Boathouse Destroyed By Sandy

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The owners of an abandoned boathouse on Meadow Lane in Southampton Village that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy last week plan to reassemble the iconic structure.

The owners, Joe and Diana DiMenna, had just begun the application process to rehabilitate the boathouse—in part to protect it from storms, and in part to make it usable again—when it was destroyed by Sandy. According to Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley, the couple has now pledged to rebuild it exactly as it appeared, using as much of the original materials as can be salvaged.

“It’s something that, when you drive down Meadow Lane, it provides a sense of time and the comfort of knowing that something has survived that long,” Mr. Epley said. “It’s an iconic structure in the village.”

The boathouse, built in the early 20th century and long ago abandoned and left to crumble, had survived more than a half dozen hurricanes and countless severe nor’easters, but crumpled under a battering by wind and waves last week. For years it had stood, mostly a skeletal hulk, in an open stretch of marshland—or meadow, as it was called in the days when the boathouse was built—in contrast to the towering modern mansions that now cast shadows across Meadow Lane.

The boathouse and stone mansion on the ocean side of the road were owned by Greek ship-building tycoon Manuel Kulukundis. Former Kulukundis family caretaker Jim Wildner had added supports to the interior frame and windows just over a decade ago. In recent years, as the interior had crumbled and washed away, local residents had made efforts to shore up the structure to keep it from collapsing.

“There have to have been a million pictures taken of that place. And paintings—there was always artists down there painting it,” said Raymond Geminski, who had played at the boathouse when he was in his teens. “They just let it go and it sort of fell apart, Mr. Geminski said. “But that was some of the appeal of it too, I think.”

The application to restore the structure is being handled by Southampton planning and development consultant Richard Warren, owner of Inter-Science Research Associates, who says the mission of the owners is to restore it not to its original condition but to a semblance of the boathouse most of those artists and photographers would recognize. The plans would allow the DiMennas to use the boathouse to store canoes and kayaks and shore it up to protect it from future storms.

“One of the reasons they bought the property is because they loved the boathouse,” Mr. Warren said. “We were just starting work on plans to stabilize it so it would survive a storm—then the storm came. But there seems to be some public sentiment that it should be rebuilt.”

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